Moles are growths on the skin that are of a different color than its surroundings. Special skin cells called melanocytes create the pigment, or melanin, that gives skin its natural color. These melanocytes are usually spread evenly throughout the skin, but when they grow in a cluster, they form a mole. Most moles are harmless, and do not need to be removed. However, because moles can become melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer), they must be closely monitored for warning signs.
There are three categories of moles: congenital, acquired, and atypical. Acquired moles are harmless moles that develop after birth and throughout one’s lifetime. Congenital moles are commonly known as “birthmarks,” as they are present since birth and can develop into a melanoma. Atypical moles are also known as dysplastic nevi, and these moles have the chance of developing into a melanoma. They often exhibit the danger signs listed below, and thus should be checked by a dermatologist.

Patients should closely monitor their moles with self-examinations. If the ABCDE characteristics of a dangerous mole is noted, a patient should visit a dermatologists.
Asymmetry. The shape of the mole is irregular, and one half does not match the other.
Border. The edges of the mole are not smooth, but ragged or blurred.
Color. The mole is not of the same color throughout, and has multiple shades.
Diameter. The diameter of the mole is larger than ¼ inch, or about the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolution. The mole’s characteristics are changing, whether it is the mole’s size, shape, or color.
If a mole is found to be cancerous (melanoma), it must be removed immediately. Even if a mole does not exhibit signs of cancer, some patients may wish to remove moles for aesthetic reasons, if they find their moles to be visually displeasing. There are several methods of mole removal. Dr. Dyson will discuss with you the best way to remove your mole.

Everyone should have regular, professional skin cancer screenings to catch these dangerous moles at their earliest stages; this gives treatment the best chance of success. If you would like to schedule a screening, or if you have already noticed a mole exhibiting warning signs, please contact us at Dyson Dermatology. Dr. Senait Dyson is one of the top dermatologists in Tucson, AZ, and is an expert on mole removal and pre-cancerous screenings.

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